Album review

Paul Dunmall and Mark Sanders – ‘Unity’

Paul Dunmall and Mark Sanders – Unity

(577 Records 5852. Album Review by Dan Bergsagel)

Paul Dunmall and Mark Sanders combine as a duo for the first time on record on this compact, 5-track album. Unity is all about urgency and high energy, leaving precious little space between Dunmall’s weaving sax (alto on track 1, tenor on 2 & 3 and C melody on 4 & 5) and Sanders’ busy background. The opening track Dwelling in Unity is particularly filling, with high and rising alto lines scraping through a wall of rhythm progressing from a full kit to a toms-plus-cymbals finale.

There are changes of pace, a more fluid Dunmall exploring loops on The Vacuum for Sanders to come forward on, and the comparatively restrained early single release, The Quiet Mind.

As the single it seemed an unusual choice, falling at the more languid end of the moods on offer here, and featuring Dunmall’s tenor. His playing of the three different horns does allows him to explore some very different modes of expression. His alto playing on Dwelling in Unity is compelling, or there is the liquidity of his playing on the C Melody (particularly on Henry Grimes), but above all it is his rich and reverberant tenor tone which stays implanted in the mind.

There’s the distance is for me the standout piece on the album, where a low start, almost Pete Wareham-earworm in its simplicity, builds to Coltrane-levels over a richly textured backdrop, Sanders carrying the thread throughout.

This opportunity for two old friends to take the time to improvise together, just the two of them, and to go into a Birmingham studio in search of – as the press release puts it – both “novelty” and “a return to the foundations” has been highly worthwhile. In Unity they have successfully and demonstrably found both.

Unity is released today 14 May 2021

LINKS: Unity at 577 Records

And on Bandcamp

Categories: Album review

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